In March 2021, the Mount Baker Foundation (MBF) launched a regional Kidney Health Awareness Initiative to increase understanding of the connection between kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease.
The earliest phase of the initiative focused on Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), which is called a silent epidemic because symptoms often do not appear until the disease is advanced and harder to treat. Diabetes is the top cause of kidney disease.
Because November is National Diabetes Awareness month, MBF intends to inform our region that positive and actionable steps to prevent Type 2 diabetes are within everyone’s reach.
Prediabetes is reversible through early detection, achievable lifestyle changes and drug treatment, if necessary, to prevent Type 2 diabetes.
The MBF initiative is a volunteer group, including Angela Krzysiek, a dialysis social worker, whose passion is to educate the public about the causes of CKD. “Because more young people are being diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important that we identify prediabetes earlier,” she said. “Prediabetes is detected when blood sugar levels are rising. Prediabetes can be reversed before developing Type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes.”
Dr. Sandhya Gelou, a diabetologist and volunteer, agrees that early lifestyle interventions to prevent diabetes are essential.
“One problem is you may not even know you have prediabetes or diabetes. You can be symptom-free for years,” she said. “However, once complications of diabetes begin to occur, nearly every aspect of your health can be affected, including your blood vessels in your kidneys, eyes, and nerves throughout your body.”
Krzysiek encourages people to ask their primary care providers to order routine testing for prediabetes, such as an A1C test that measures blood sugar over the past two to three months; fasting blood sugar tests to measure blood sugar after an overnight fast; or glucose tolerance tests that measure blood sugar before and after drinking a glucose liquid.
If a person’s tests indicate prediabetes, simple lifestyle changes can reverse the condition. Though weight loss is often a key strategy, it’s important to know that not everyone needs to lose a massive amount of weight, Gelou said. “Even a change as small as a 5 percent reduction in weight can have substantial metabolic improvements.”
The CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has shown that people with prediabetes who lost a modest amount of weight – 5 to 7 percent (10 to 14 pounds for a person weighing 200 pounds) – with the help of a structured lifestyle-change program cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
“Take control of your health today by checking your blood sugar levels and finding ways to reduce your risk for developing diabetes,” Krzysiek said.
To enroll in Washington State University Whatcom County Extension’s CDC Diabetes Prevention Program, contact Kate Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org. Foster is trained to help with lifestyle modifications to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Take the one minute prediabetes risk test on the CDC website at bit.ly/3DdwxLO.
Courtesy of Mount Baker Foundation
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